Controversial Islamic cleric, Sheik Ahmad Gumi, is someone who has constantly received backlash from Nigerians as a result of his unpopular opinions regarding bandits. In the past couple of months, Gumi has raised eyebrows and sent tongues wagging with his advocacy for amnesty for the kidnappers and killers, as well as the claims he made about them which ultimately turned out to be wrong.
Photo credit: The Whistler.
This article will look at some of these claims Sheik Gumi has made both in the bandits' defence and otherwise, and how they turned out to be wrong. They indicate that perhaps the cleric does not know the people he advocates for as well as he thinks.
1 Bandits are not killers.
If you have been keeping up with the news regarding the bandits, you will recall that Sheik Gumi once said that they are not killers. He once argued that, unlike IPOB that goes around killing security operatives in the southeast, the bandits only kidnap school children and release them upon the payment of ransoms.
Photo credit: The Guardian Nigeria.
But how wrong he turned out to be! It did not take long for the bandits to reveal themselves as not only kidnappers but murderers, as seen in the killing of 5 kidnapped Greenfield University students, for starters. Since then, gunning people down in the process of abducting others has become the norm, as countless instances show. Most notable of this is perhaps the murder of two soldiers during a raid on the NDA in Kaduna state.
2 Bandits Kidnap to make ends meet.
Sheik Gumi has always portrayed the bandits as victims of circumstances, who resorted to kidnapping in a desperate bid to survive. It is on this ground that he strongly advocated for the provision of alternative means of livelihood for the criminals by the government, as well as the use of negotiation as opposed to force in dealing with them.
Photo credit: Desert Herald.
However, recent events have shown that the money made from kidnapping people has only been channeled toward stockpiling weapons for state domination. A look at the attempted takeover of Zamfara and Katsina states by the bandits is proof enough of this fact.
3 Bandits are Nigerians.
Though not expressly stated by Sheik Gumi, he did imply that the bandits are Nigerians who deserve amnesty just like Niger Delta militants. He once described them as Fulani who fell victims to cattle rustlers and resorted to banditry to make ends meet. Once again, the cleric was wrong in his assertion.
Photo credit: ICIRNigeria.
Several sources have since pointed to foreign influence existing among the bandits, most notable of which are the tweets of Femi Fani Kayode which referred to the arrested criminals as foreigners. There is also the recent incident in Niger state, where the criminals stumbled upon a military camp and were fired upon and slain. Eyewitnesses described their bodies as having "long hair like women", a clear indication of their alien status.
4 The bandits have fled Zamfara state.
Perhaps the latest misconception Sheik Gumi has had about the bandits is their whereabouts in Zamfara state. After the military moved in on the criminals against his advice, the cleric announced that they had fled and strayed into other states via preplanned escape routes. He said the innocent residents were the ones suffering from the presence of the troops.
Photo credit: This Day Live.
However, no sooner had he said this than the bandits, who were supposed to have fled, captured a strategic military base in Zamfara, killing 12 officers in the process. One would assume that since Sheik Gumi purports to know the bandits so well, he would have known better than to falsely announce their absence.
What are your thoughts concerning this article? What other thing has Sheik Gumi gotten wrong about the bandits? Share your opinions in the comments section below.
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